LatinaLista — Rape is a despicable act wherever and whenever it's done. Yet, when it's used as a weapon of war during conflict it's time for the world to speak up in defense of the victims.
[caption id="attachment_17661" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="International Campaign to Prevent Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict launches in Cartagena, Colombia on May 6, 2012 with an enthusiastic reception by local women. (Photo: Campaign's Facebook page)."][/caption]
A new international campaign spearheaded by the Nobel Women's Initiative aims to do just that with the launch yesterday in Cartagena, Colombia of the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict.
It marks the first time that a global collaboration between Nobel Peace Laureates, international advocacy organizations, and groups working at the regional and community levels in conflict areas have been assembled for such a cause. The campaign plans to initially focus on four countries: Burma, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya. The women in these countries are in crisis when it comes to rape being used against them.
[caption id="attachment_17662" align="alignright" width="231" caption="Participant at launch of International campaign in Cartagena, Colombia shows solidarity with the issue by wearing campaign t-shirt."][/caption]
Colombia has been engaged in a low-intensity civil war for decades. Narco-trafficking has fuelled already high levels of conflict and added to already high levels of insecurity for communities thorugh the country. Gender violence by guerrilla groups, paramilitaries, and the state security forces is rampant, with most going perpetrators going unpunished for rape
The campaign hopes to make a difference in Colombia and the other countries through a strategy containing three pillars of the campaign — Prevent, Protect and Prosecute.
Members of the campaign plan on calling on the political leadership in the respective countries to enforce the prevention of rape in conflict, protect civilians and rape survivors and stand behind a call for justice in prosecuting those responsible.
The campaign has designated this week as a Week of Action where people are asked to sign a pledge — and use the hashtag ##IPLEDGE — that they join in speaking out against this horrendous act. As part of the pledge, people are asked to call on politicians to denounce rape in conflict and lend their support to eradicating one of the most vicious tools of war man is using against women and children.